Sep 29
Indigo Feather & Fan Vest Update
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 29th, 2009| icon33 Comments »

I had meant to get this up Sunday night, but better late than never, and I have completed one more row, only, so it still looks the same.

What do you think?

indigo-ff-sweater-2

I am very pleased with how it is coming out.  And, so far, I don’t think I’ve made any mistakes in it that I haven’t caught and fixed.

Sep 28
Wow! I received a blog award!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Did you Know? | icon4 09 28th, 2009| icon33 Comments »

Honest_Scrap[1]

Cheryl at Acorn to Oak just awarded me with the above blog award.  Cool!!!  Thank you Cheryl!! This is my first award and I am completely humbled and honored by this.

The rules of accepting this are as follows:

1.  Choose a minimum of 7 blogs to give this award to that you feel to be brilliant in content and design.

2.  Show the 7 winner’s links on your blog and leave them a comment informing them that they have been given the “Honest Scrap.”

3.  List 10 honest things about yourself that people may not know.

So, 7 blogs that I feel to be brilliant in content and design.  Well, I can’t tag back Cheryl because she has one, so let’s move forward.

1. Martha’s Vineyard/Hudson Valley Fiber Farms. This blog is fun, informative, educational, and you get to know so many nice people, sheep and goats.

2.  Jenny Dean’s Wild Colour.  This blog is one of the best natural dye site I have ever found.  Of course, her book is one of my main teaching tools on the subject.

3.  Pasta Queen.  She has lost more weight than most of us weigh now and she has grown from a shy person to one who has gone on to be able to say “Half-Assed” on national TV.

4.  Handweaving Today.  Not only is David T. Daniels one of the nicest people you could ever read about, he is one of the most prolific and talented.  He spins, dyes and weaves the most beautiful things, and his photography of them (and his two cats) is professional level.

5.  5 Acres & a Dream.  This blog is about a couple buying land, an old farm house and how they are remodeling and reclaiming them to turn them into a sustainable farm.  Very interesting to read.  Lots of great pictures.

6.  Weaving a Life.  If you know who Laura Fry is, then I don’t need to say any more about this blog.  Laura has been a professional weaver for many decades, and she travels across the country teaching weaving.  She posts not only pictures, but videos of her weaving techniques, which are well worth studying.

7.  In Stitches.  A very fun blog about knitting, soap making, dyeing, spinning, horses, etc., with lots of pictures.

Let’s see 10 honest things that people may not know about me.

1.  I have an IQ of 139.  Which just means I read a lot.

2.  My degree is in Computer Programming, which I haven’t done since I graduated from college.

3.  Violin music can bring tears to my eyes just listening to it.  I LOVE a violin’s voice.

4.  I think my husband is the greatest husband in the whole, wide world and I am the luckiest woman possible to be married to him.

5.  I wrote my first “novel” when I was just 10 years old.  Unfortunately, it burned when our farmhouse burned down when I was 13.

6.  I love studying genealogy and have traced part of my family’s history back to about the year 500 AD (although I’m stuck in the early 1800’s on another line).  Also, I am a mutt in every sense of the word as I have African, Cherokee, Jewish and most of western Europe in my blood.

7.  I have only 20% hearing in my left ear.

8.  I was born with only 22 of the 32 permanent teeth an adult is supposed to have, and I was born without wisdom teeth.  Lucky me!

9.  I weighed only 93 pounds in college.

10.  I can write in cursive backwards and it is totally legible when turned around and held up to the light.  I can also read backwards, and backwards and upside down as easily as I can read the normal way.  I used to take my early morning class notes in college by writing backwards because it helped me stay awake.

Sep 27
Two in a row!!
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 27th, 2009| icon32 Comments »

I love busy and productive weekends at home.  Usually, at best, I get one day out of the two to get things done, but this weekend, I got a bonus day and today was just as busy as yesterday.

After a week of rain (last Saturday was the last really nice day we’ve had), we finally have a day of sunshine.  Since the dryer’s on the repair list, I have been taking advantage of these days to hang clothes out on the line.

days-work-done

So, my laundry is done for another week, but…

rug

…I also managed to wash one of the rugs from my studio.  This one is a handwoven rug I picked up several years ago, and it has been patiently waiting for me to have a weaving studio.

rug-close-up

It’s a weft-face rug all done with rug warp and the colors are lovely and bright.  It has a couple of repairs in it, so I must be at least the second person to enjoy it.

While I was doing the laundry, I started on an reupholstery project that I’ve been meaning to do all summer.  A friend of ours, Paul McCall, asked me to redo a chair for him and every time I have tried to get to it, something else has come up.  So today, I cleared my plate and began working on it.

green-chair-front

Here is the front of the chair.  I really like the style of it, and it is really comfortable.

green-chair-side

The side of the chair.

green-chair-back

And the back of the chair.

lizzie

Oh, yes!  And Lizzie sitting in the chair.  Lizzie has been my mascot for over 20 years, and was the prototype for most of the dolls I have made.  She has gone to comic book conventions, and has traveled all over the country with us.  And, she stayed with me at the hospital when I had surgery a few years ago.  She has a very sweet spirit.

First thing, I gathered the supplies I needed.

purple-fabric-&-supplies

sewing-machine-&-supplies

And made 10 yards of cording.

snake-on-a-table

Took the cushion off and began tearing it apart.

niters-little-helper

Lizzie helped.

Then I turned the chair over and began to remove the dust cover so I could get the rest of the fabric off of the chair.  I intend to carefully dismantle the cover and use the pieces as pattern pieces to make the new cover.  I have never covered anything round before, so this is going to be a fun challenge.

But first the unfun challenge.

staple-crazy

I swear there must be 50 zillion staples on the bottom of this thing.  The manufacturer obviously was afraid the fabric might try to get away and made sure it stayed put no matter what!  This is going to take some prying with the tack puller.

Oh yes, and one of my favorite tools.

ruler

What’s so cool about a yard-stick, you ask?

But-this-one-goes-to-48

Because this one goes up to 48 inches.  Handiest thing I own.  Seriously!

Sep 26
See Benita Play
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 26th, 2009| icon33 Comments »

This morning, I had lots of errands to do in town, but I got home at about 2:00 and dug straight into my studio.  Here is what I have gotten done.

full-table-1

See full table.

empty-table-1

See empty table.

no-table

See no table.

full-table-2

See full table.

empty-table-2

See empty table.

cabinets

See pretty cabinets.

empty-cabinets

See empty cabinets.

full-cabinets

See full cabinets.

dye-central

See Benita’s dye center.

See a theme?  This took, all said and done about 3.5 hours, and I still have work I need to do in there, but it’s time to settle in for the evening and listen to the season opener of Prairie Home Companion.  Woohoo!!!  I am very pleased with my organizational time today.

Sep 25
I’m letting you in on a dream
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 25th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Scott and I have been thinking a lot about what our “perfect life” would be like.  So, I wrote it as a short story of one day in that perfect life.  I hope you enjoy our dream of some day soon.

My Perfect Life

I woke this morning to the sound of rain tapping on the window beside my head.  The gentle rhythm lulled me back to sleep for a few seconds and I drifted in and out of dreamland briefly.  When I turned my head to look at the clock, I saw that it was 8 o’clock, way past my normal time to get up, but I blamed it on the rain and the gloomy skies it brought with it.  Normally, this eastern-facing window glows with the dawn and that is enough to wake me to start my day.

After stretching, I sat up and slowly gazed around me.  The soft grayness of the light and the fact I was without my glasses almost made me drift back off again.  Shaking my head to clear out the last of the dream-webs, I dropped my feet to the handwoven run beside my bed.  My toes sought out the warm slippers waiting for them and I yawned as I slid my feet into them.  I could tell this was going to be a low-impact sort of day.

Once my morning ablutions were complete, I went down the stairs and wandered into the kitchen.  The kettle was quickly filled and onto the stove, and my favorite Ceylon tea was in the huge “morning” mug that I used to kick-start my brain into its usual fervor of activity.  I had always sworn, as a young woman, that I would never fall into the trap of needing caffeine to help wake me up.  Ahhh…  To be that idealistic once again.  Now, I welcomed my morning ritual like a long lost friend each day and smiled in remembrance of my once youthful self.

While the kettle heated up, I sat my box of bills and correspondence on the table and prepared myself for my other morning ritual, my time of reckoning with the world at large before I immersed myself into the rest of the day’s routine.  I had discovered, many years ago, that making sure all was right with the world outside my home was a great way to start my day.  It was reassuring to know we had plenty of money to meet any of our needs and that our chosen careers were still viable.  Also, I loved knowing that, at least until the mailman came at 3 in the afternoon, we owed no one anything.

The kettle whistled and I poured the water into my mug.  The hardest part of all of this was waiting for it to cool down enough to take that first sip.  Let Scott have his coffee.  Give me hot tea any day.

Since I had accidentally slept in, my time for chores was at a premium.  I like getting the majority of them done before Scott got up at 9:30, that way I can make our breakfast with only the dishes and the “noisy” chores to do once he is up.  Dusting will have to wait until tomorrow.

Once my bills and affairs were caught up and my tea was gone, I quickly swept the kitchen floor and put away the dry dishes from last night’s washing up.  Then I ran back upstairs with the ledger book, turned on the internet computer, and, while it was booting, went into my room, made the bed and picked out my clothes for the day.  Then I got onto my bank’s site and did my daily bank reconciliation.  That being done, I read my daily comics, caught up on my favorite blogs and checked the final numbers for our web comic.  120K on a non-update day.  Not too shabby, all said and done.

Nine o’clock and I turned to Scott’s studio shaking my head at the clutter that was created since the day before.  I quickly straightened it up, being careful to not touch the scenario Scott had created so he could draw the current scene in the comic.  A lot was happening and this was his way of keeping the places of all the characters straight as well as helping him work out the perspective.  I have always marveled at the way his creativity worked.

I grabbed the broom from the closet and swept the eraser bits and scraps of paper out from under his drafting table.  Then I gathered up his dishes from the previous night that he forgot to take down with him when he went to bed.  These went down with me to the sink and I went into his bathroom to see if any of his baskets were full enough to warrant a load of laundry today.  None were, so that was one less chore for the morning.

It was nearly 9:30, so I went back into the kitchen, switched on the coffee maker, and began making breakfast.  Today, because of the rain and general gloominess of the weather, I decided to fry up some extra thick bacon to go with the oatmeal.  I wasn’t sure if the smell of the coffee or the bacon would wake him before the alarm, but at least he’d have that smell to welcome him into a new day.

As the coffee maker was nearly done and I was dishing out the last of the oatmeal, Scott stumbled into the room looking all cute and muzzy-headed.  He was not a morning person in the extreme, and it would be another hour before he was really awake.  I wished him a good morning and kissed him on his bald spot once he was seated at the table.  He smiled at me.

“Man!  Why the bacon this morning?  I’m not complaining, but we don’t usually have bacon until the weekend.”

“Because it is raining and I felt like having bacon.”

“I hope it rains tomorrow, too, then.”

I laughed and we dug into our meal.  Since he wasn’t really awake, conversation was at a minimum.  The meal didn’t last long and soon Scott got up, refilled his cup and went upstairs to check out the world via the internet.  I washed up the dishes and gave the counters and stove a wipe down.  Then upstairs I went to get dressed and get ready for the best part of my day.

benita-weaving

By 10:15, I was sitting at the loom admiring the cloth woven the day before.  I ran my hand over the cloth lovingly.  I was sure the client who had ordered this for her formal draperies would be extremely pleased.  Then I switched on my CD player and began weaving.

At 12:30 Scott came downstairs.  “Are you ready for lunch?”  He asked this every day, and every day I said, “Not yet, but go ahead and fix yourself something.”  He usually pulled out the leftovers from supper the night before and heated it up in the microwave.  This day was no different, and the smell of the food wafted over to me.

“You know.  That’s just cruel!”  I wailed as I turned off the CD player.

“I thought you weren’t hungry?”

“I’m not, but that smells so good!”

“Want some?”

“No, go ahead, but I’ve got to make something for supper that doesn’t smell so good when reheated.”

He laughed and came over to check out what I am doing.  “Wow!  I love this cloth.”

“So do I.  It’s going to be hard to give it up when time comes.”

“How much more do you have to go on it?”

I bent down and looked at what is left on the warp beam and made a quick estimation.  “About three yards would be my guess.”

“So will you get it done today?”

“Probably tomorrow.  I want to stop weaving at three so I can finish spinning off that top and start plying it.”

“Is it for anyone special or just for the shop?”

“Actually, this one is for me.  I want to make a vest out of it after I weave it on Sir Henry.”  I wove a couple more picks and Scott finished his lunch.  “Do we have many orders today?”

“Fourteen at the last check.  And, get this, someone ordered a Johnny Saturn: Synns of the Father trade.”

“Do we have many left?”

“About a dozen I think.  Do you think we should order more?”

I stopped and thought for a moment.  “No, I think it’s time to let that one go.  We have so many other properties now, that I want to move forward rather than continuing to revisit the past.”

Scott cocked his eye at me.  “You mean, make it officially “out of print”?”

I nodded.  “I think it’s time.  I mean it is nice that we still get orders for it, but if we allow it to go out of print, the price for existing copies will go up and we can start a trading and collecting war out of them.”  I looked up at Scott to see what he thought.

“Sounds okay to me.”  He stood up and started back into the kitchen.  “Well, time to get back to it.  I should have the inking on this page done this afternoon, get it scanned in and off to the colorist.  Then I can work on that DC cover that is due next week.  I’d like to get it to them by the end of the day tomorrow so I can start the next of our comic’s pages.”

I nodded, switched my CD player back on and went back to my weaving.

Three o’clock came quickly and I had woven off another yard and a half.  I stretched, got up and walked over to front door.  The rain was still coming down steadily, so I grabbed my raincoat.  The run to the mailbox was nice and the air was soft and cool.  Everything looked so green around us.  The corn across the road was about knee high and the old saying “Knee high by the 4th of July” came into my mind.  It was a little early this year since July 4th was still a week and a half away.

The mail brought us a flyer and a check from the publishing company we used to print our books and keep us in with all the bookstores.  I loved getting these checks.  Most of the people we dealt with paid using Paypal, but a few still sent checks through the mail.  Call me old-fashioned, but I loved opening the mailbox and getting a real live check, even if it did mean a trip to town to deposit it.

I carefully shook off my raincoat outside before transferring it to its hook inside the front door.  I turned off the lamps in my studio and went upstairs to join Scott.  I kept my spinning wheel in Scott’s studio and this time together meant more to us than we could ever express.  I checked the internet once again, played a game or two of solitaire, and settled in with the wheel.

We talked of this and that.  His mother had called (I didn’t hear the phone ring once again.  My concentration while weaving was pretty tight.).  She didn’t have anything to say, really, but it made her happy to hear Scott’s voice and to know all was well with us.

At 5:00, I went down stairs and started supper.  I was glad I had picked the vegetables the night before and decided a chicken stir-fry with brown and wild rice sounded good for supper.  It was an old stand-by with me, and while we have it about once a week, for some reason we never got tired of it.  I figured it was because it was rarely the same twice, being dependent on what was ripe in the garden at any given time.

Just fore 6:00, I shouted up the stairs to Scott that supper was done.  He came down the stairs and together we sat and ate supper.  He said we were up to 29 books sold for the day, which was a slow day, but more than enough to get packed up and ready for my trip into town Saturday morning with the rest of the orders that had come it that week.

Once supper was done, Scott and I cleaned the table and he washed up the dishes while I went up to my office in the front dormer of my room.  Scott had laid the orders for the day on my desk and I pulled together everything and began boxing them up and writing out labels.  By the time I was done, Scott had the dishes all done.  He helped me carry the packages downstairs to the garage and placed them into my car.  Then he hugged me.

The life we had chosen together was a dream come true for the both of us.  We were both actively busy at what we enjoyed most.  We created our own comics together, kept two other full-time artists busy with two other titles and our colorist was better than either of us could ever have hoped for.  The fact that he had once worked for the Foglios was enough of a recommendation for us and we had never regretted hiring him.  And I had my own side business with the weaving, spinning, dye orders and teaching the workshops on these subjects.

benita_spinning2

The rest of the evening was spent with me spinning and Scott finishing up his goals for the day.  We took our showers at about 8:30, and by 9:30, I was ready for bed.  Scott was planning to watch a movie and relax before going to bed, but he wanted to get online and talk to some of his friends before this.  I knew it would be after midnight before he went to bed.

With the room darkened, my fan running and the tapping of the rain on the window beside my head, I sighed in contentment.  My life was perfect.

I turned over onto my side, facing the wall, and went to sleep.  I think I was still grinning.

And that is my dream of one day in the perfect life I want as my future.

Sep 23
Spider Silk Cloth
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 23rd, 2009| icon31 Comment »

spiderspan

Check this article on weaving with the silk of a particular species of spider.  Cloth rich enough for a king!

The vast variety of items than can be made into cloth has always fascinated me.  You should be able to click on the image above and enlarge it to see the details of the cloth better.  And best yet, this is not dyed!  This is the color of the spider’s silk!

Sep 19
More on Saturday in Indiana
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 19th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

Before I hung up my first load of laundry, I decided to go around and take pictures of our property. It has been several years since I had done this, and we need to update our files.

So, I’ll take you on a short tour of my place. I took many more pictures than this, but until I can figure how to upload some of the panoramic shots I put together, this will have to do.

house-front

First, we’ll start with the front of my house. It was built in 1994. The upper right dormer is my bedroom, the upper left dormer is Scott’s studio. The middle dormer is currently a mash-up of library and exercise room. That soon will change. The middle two lower level windows are my studio.

barn

This is the building we call the barn. Technically it is a two-car detached garage, but it is easier to say barn than detached garage. One day, this will be remodeled and turned into a dye studio for me (left hand side) and a painting studio for Scott (right hand side).

barn-from-tank

Another view of the barn.

lane-behind-barn

This is the narrow lane behind the barn. Just beyond the left of the picture is the 38 acre field of which we own 44.5%. The beans were combined this week, so that is done.

from-back-corner

This was taken from one of the back corners of the yard.

along-side

This is from the front corner toward the back corner where I was standing in the last picture. This is the south side of our place and the shade here is cool and lovely due to the very tall Wall of China trees (it was supposed to be a hedge, but they grew and grew and grew!).

side-back-left

And this is standing in the front yard looking back to that same corner. Our side yard is rather large and one day I hope to have a garden here instead of lawn.

Well, That’s where I live. Our closest neighbor is over 800 feet south of us and on the other side of the road. It is very flat here, prairie land, and there is seldom a time when there isn’t at least a breeze blowing. Unfortunately, in the winter, the wind can be rather strong and harsh. There are patches of wooded areas here and there, and they are great for mushroom hunting in the spring.

Sep 19
Saturday in Indiana
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Uncategorized | icon4 09 19th, 2009| icon31 Comment »

The weather is lovely today, I’ve mowed the yard for the first time in a month (it has been very dry here and just now needed it – barely), and am catching up on my chores.

I have knitted a little on my newest vest, but not enough to show.

I hope you all are having a great a weekend as I am!

Now back to hanging out laundry.

Sep 13

Yesterday, Sandy and I boarded a bus (organized by Mass Ave Knitting Shop here in Indianapolis) and went to Chicago to spend the day at Stitches Midwest. Due to their rather stringent rules about photographs, I have only one I can show you, but first a story.

Sandy is a HUGE fan of Addi Turbos and owns just about one in every size possible, and that’s not including the New Addi Clicks. Me? I don’t like metal needles and find them too slick, but I do own several of their wooden needles and like them. I guess I’m always going to choose wooden needles over metal ones if given the chance.

Well, Skacel had a booth at Stitches and they were giving away 20 of their “Hello, my name is ____________. I’m a knitter.” T-shirts, which, if I understand it right, are not available to be purchased by the general public, but are being used as a promotional item. Well, Sandy wanted one and she and I put our names in for the drawings.

We checked back several times over the course of the day to see if we had won any of them. At about 5:15, less than an hour before our bus was scheduled to depart for home, we checked at the booth one last time, and Karin Skacel, President of Skacel told us that because we had been there so many times to see if we had won, that she was just going to give each of us a T-shirt. How nice can you get?

So here we are, with Karin Skacel, with our new T-shirts.

skacel

She was such a nice person and Sandy and I both fell in love with her.

Of course, while we were on the bus going up there and back (at least while there was enough light to knit by, I worked on my newest natural dye sweater vest. This one is going to be all in different shades of indigo and I’m doing it in Feather & Fan lace.

indigovest1

And here is a more detailed view of the way the pattern is coming out.

indigovest1closeup

Tomorrow, I will be at the Indianapolis Embroiderer’s Guild to talk about and show samples of natural dyeing. I’ll be taking both sweater vests, the handspun/handwoven indigo and cochineal fabric and the madder gradation shawl to show them. I am to talk for 45 minutes, but this is no problem for me. Natural Dyeing us such a passion of mine, the hard part will be stopping at 45 minutes.

I hope everyone’s weekend was as lovely and fun as mine has been!

Sep 9
I feel autumn in the air
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 09 9th, 2009| icon34 Comments »

This past weekend, a holiday weekend, I came down with a pretty nasty head cold. I could gripe and complain about not being able to get those tasks on my list done that I had planned to do, but I won’t. Why not?

This!

autumnvest1

When you don’t feel well enough to mow the yard or reupholster a chair, you might still be able to knit.

autumnvest2

You might still sleep alot, but you can still knit a little here and there.

autumnvest3

And I knitted a bit. So, this is now completed and ready for the natural dye lecture I’m giving next Monday.

And I have already started the next vest, but with only 6 rounds done, there isn’t anything exciting to show you, yet. I will give you a hint, though. This is my first “real” foray into lace. Eeek!! My palms get clammy just thinking about it.

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